Don't Be a Victim: Scams Targeting Veterans

Don't Be a Victim: Scams Targeting Veterans

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Criminals are always looking for ways to scam you out of your hard-earned money and often, it's our military veterans who fall victim to these scams.

This past weekend, the nation said, "thank you" to our military veterans—the men and women who have given so much back to their country.

But not everyone is showing them the honor and respect they deserve. A new AARP survey shows veterans are frequently targeted by scam artists and victimized twice as often as the rest of the public.

"It was a little surprising to think that scammers would literally target veterans and that they will pose as veterans which makes veterans more likely to believe the scammer," said Teresa Arnold, AARP South Carolina State Director.

The survey found 16 percent of veterans had lost money to fraudsters compared to eight percent of non-veterans.  Often the scams are aimed at the benefits they receive.

"For instance, there is a benefits buyout scam, so a scammer will offer an upfront payment of cash in exchange for the veteran's future disability payments. The problem is that typically buyouts are just a fraction of what they would have gotten had they just gotten their benefits," Arnold said.

Here are some of the other common scams that AARP and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service say veterans need to be on the lookout for:

  • The benefits buyout offer: This scheme takes advantage of veterans in need by offering a quick upfront buyout in exchange for future disability or pension payments.
  • The fake charitable giving request: Fraudulent claims about benefitting veterans or wounded service members.
  • Fraudulent records offer: In this scam, veterans receive a contact claiming that for a fee, only the scammer can access your military records or government forms. But this information is available for free through local U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offices.
  • A VA phishing scam: A scammer claiming to work for the VA calls veterans and asks for Social Security numbers and personal financial information.
  • The bogus employment scam: Scammers collect personal information or charge a fee for obtaining a job that doesn’t exist.

Arnold says that one giveaway of these scams is that they are most often unsolicited.

"I think that any time somebody calls you and asks for your information of any kind, that is probably a scam.  If you are calling a reputable number that is one thing, but if they are calling you, you had better watch out."

AARP is joining forces with the U.S. Postal Service for Operation Protect Veterans—a campaign aimed at getting the word out about these type scams—so that those who served our country won't fall victim to them.  Click here for more information about the project.